Graphic U.S. Deaths Broadcast In Iraq

February 26th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Graphic U.S. Deaths Broadcast In Iraq

Chicago Tribune
February 25, 2007
Pg. 1

Station picks up video from terror Web sites
By Liz Sly, Tribune foreign correspondent
BAGHDAD -- A Humvee moving through a grove of palm trees erupts in a ball of fire. An American soldier on guard in the turret of his tank suddenly crumples, felled by a sniper's bullet. Marines on a foot patrol are obliterated by a huge explosion that fills the screen with dense black smoke.
These are the kind of scenes played over and over on Al-Zawraa TV, the latest in a slew of new Iraqi satellite channels to hit the airwaves since the 2003 invasion--and by far the most controversial.
Broadcasting from a secret location inside Iraq, the station has established itself as the face of the Iraqi insurgency within the region and beyond, delivering a mix of anti-American invective interspersed with graphic video footage of Americans getting blown up by roadside bombs, shot dead by snipers and bombarded by mortars on their bases.
Al-Zawraa has also taken on the Iraqi government, Iraq's Shiite militias and, in a recent twist, Al Qaeda in Iraq. Though U.S. and Iraqi officials say they would like to shut it down, the authorities have so far proved powerless to do so, illustrating the challenges posed by the cheap new technologies of a satellite era in which almost anyone can launch a TV station and reach an audience of millions.
This is no ordinary TV station, however.
The anchor wears the olive uniform of Saddam Hussein's Fedayeen fighters, with a red-checkered scarf wrapped around his head. The station's slogan, "We Win or We Die," flashes periodically over the face of the station's improbable icon, Anthony Quinn, in his role as a Bedouin leader in the movie "Lion of the Desert."
It's less a news channel than a jihadist version of MTV, featuring non-stop video shorts accompanied by soundtracks of patriotic music.
"Hey, people of Diyala, Mosul, Anbar. Destroy the invaders!" says one catchy number, sung as an oil tanker driving through the desert is vaporized by a large bomb.
The logo of whichever insurgent group carried out the attack appears in the corner of the screen.
The quality varies. Those produced by the Islamic Army are slick and fast paced. The Mujahedeen Army's videos are blurry. The ones by the Rashideen Army are filmed from so far away it's impossible to make out what's happening.
Since Al-Zawraa began broadcasting around the clock three months ago, it has acquired something of a cult following among Iraqis, who tune in once or twice a day to check out the latest videos, according to Sunni parliamentarian Salim Abdullah.
"There are too many repeats to watch it all the time, but people like to check it every day," he said. "Whether you love it or hate it, everyone is eager to see what's new ... and it's a change from the regular news, which only shows civilians getting blown up."
Station owned by Iraq exile
Al-Zawraa is owned by Sunni politician Mishan al-Jibouri, an elected parliamentarian who was an enthusiastic if belligerent participant in the political process until he was charged with corruption and fled to Syria last year.
Now he runs the station on a shoestring from his Damascus apartment, using video clips downloaded free from insurgent Internet Web sites.
The prerecorded segments are broadcast from a mobile broadcasting unit similar to those used by TV reporters, from a secret location in northwestern Iraq, said al-Jibouri, reached by telephone in Damascus.
"They are in the places where the mujahedeen and the resistance has control, and where the Americans have no control," he said of his station's unit.
The programs are transmitted on the Egypt-based Nilesat. Starting this month, they will also be transmitted on Arabsat, a Gulf-based provider that reaches across the region and into Europe.
"I am convinced millions of people watch this channel," al-Jibouri said. "I receive thousands of e-mails every day from Arabs inside and outside the Arab world supporting me. Some of them offer to donate money, and if I accepted all the donations, I could receive ten times the cost of running this channel."
The cost, he said, is nominal. His six staffers are unpaid volunteers and the material is free, though an anonymous donor paid for the $750,000 contract with Arabsat.
Though it's impossible to measure the station's audience, Al-Zawraa is disseminating insurgent propaganda to a far wider audience than it would receive on the various insurgent Web sites, some of which have rigid and prohibitive subscription rules.
A recent column in the Jordanian newspaper al-Arab Al-Yawm urged "all Muslims" to regularly watch the channel, as a means of "teaching our children that the real picture of Iraq is the picture of resistance . . . and great martyrdom."
Yet there appears to have been no concerted effort to silence Al-Zawraa since November, when Iraqi security forces raided the station's studio in Baghdad just days after it began broadcasting, prompting al-Jibouri to take it underground.
"I can't understand why the Iraqi government and the coalition don't do more to stop this," said Sadiq al-Musawi, head of the Iraqi Media Center, a government-backed organization.
"It has a very negative effect. It shows you how to attack Americans, how to build a bomb and so on. There are a lot of simple people, young people in Iraq without jobs and this is encouraging them to go and fight."
A U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, said it wasn't the military's responsibility to shut the station down. "It's coming from another country and it's on open airwaves," he said, adding that it is an issue for the Iraqi government. "Obviously, we disapprove of showing coalition soldiers being killed," he added. "But these videos are generally all available on the Internet."
Station denounces Al Qaeda
Al-Jibouri denies his station incites violence. "Tens" of the daily e-mails he receives are from people asking how they can sign up to fight, but he does not encourage them.
"To the foreign Arabs, we say `Thank you, but Iraq has enough fighters of its own and we don't need more,'" he said. "To the Iraqis, we say `You are inside Iraq, so you know very well where to go to volunteer.'"
Never, however, has Al-Zawraa broadcast videos featuring Al Qaeda attacks, instead focusing on homegrown insurgent groups. The omission erupted last week into a highly public spat with the Al Qaeda in Iraq movement.
Making a rare appearance on his own TV station, al-Jibouri read a long statement denouncing Al Qaeda as a threat to Iraqi stability and blaming it for inciting the sectarian violence plaguing the country.
Since then, Al-Zawraa has expanded its fare to include anti-Al Qaeda propaganda. The "news" ticker, previously devoted to denunciations of the "occupiers" and the "collaborator" Iraqi government, now gives equal space to criticisms of Al Qaeda.
Al Qaeda struck back, posting a long statement on its Web site accusing al-Jibouri of acting on the orders of Egyptian, Jordanian and U.S. intelligence.
Al-Jibouri refutes the charge. He says he felt compelled to take a stand against Al Qaeda because of indications that it is seeking to expand its control in Sunni areas of Iraq.
"We believe the occupiers will leave Iraq sooner or later, but Al Qaeda will stay, as a threat to Iraqi unity and the main cause of sectarian violence," he said.
The homegrown insurgent groups featured on Al-Zawraa have over the past year increasingly sought to distance themselves from Al Qaeda, which is held responsible for the vast majority of suicide attacks.
The extent to which al-Jibouri speaks for the Iraqi insurgency is unclear, however. A former Baathist who fell out with Hussein in the 1990s and spent a decade in exile in Syria and Kurdistan, he returned after the invasion to join the political process.
He's wanted by the Iraqi government for siphoning off millions of dollars intended for oil pipeline security, and fled the country after parliament lifted his immunity a year ago.
Al-Musawi, who recently stormed off an Al Jazeera TV set during a live debate with al-Jibouri that turned into a yelling match, suspects al-Jibouri has turned on Al Qaeda in response to pressure from the Syrian authorities, who have in turn come under increasing pressure from Iraq and the U.S. to distance themselves from terrorism.
"He's not on good terms with anybody, and he doesn't represent anybody," said al-Musawi, who would like to see the Iraqi government exert greater pressure on the Syrian government to suppress Al-Zawraa.
But Abdullah, the parliamentarian, sees no reason why the station should be banned.
"It shows things that are linked to the daily reality of life in Iraq, and the truth about the challenge the Americans are facing," he said.
March 2nd, 2007  
major liability
I think more Americans should see these videos. They are very rarely, if ever, shown on American TV. It would remind them of the sacrifices our troops make but are so often downplayed for political reasons.
March 2nd, 2007  
I'd prefer to see more of our troops kicking ass rather than getting their ass kicked... but then that's just me.
March 2nd, 2007  
major liability
Show both, so we can see the ravages of war visited upon our enemies and our soldiers alike. Maybe people will stop thinking its a good way to solve problems then.
March 3rd, 2007  
If this is being transmitted from within Iraq, you cannot tell me that the US Army's ComInt people can't pinpoint the location of the transmitter.

I know very little on this subject, but I do know that the civil equivalent in NSW Ausralia can locate the source of a signal on a known frequency in a few seconds of transmission. This has been done on several occasions in recent times with boating tragedies.

It seem odd to me that a station can transmit a moderately high powered signal for long enough to show these things without being located.
March 3rd, 2007  
Its coming from Syria, run by an Iraqi "dissident".
March 3rd, 2007  
Thanks Bulldogg I thought that it sounded screwy.

The initial post said that it was being broadcast from within Iraq. I made the rather stupid mistake of believing a journalist again. I didn't bother to cross check.

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